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23 February 2006

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Alfred L. Brophy

Ah, a great question, Michael. And one on which I suspect many people will have widely varying responses. My sense is that public universities outside of the elite are moving towards dramatically increased focus on how two groups view them: students and elite evaluators. That is, we're spending substantially more time asking how new teachers, candidates for tenure, and candidates for senior lateral appointments will be viewed by (and relate to) students; and what they'll do for us as scholars. Particularly given the substantial investment that law schools make in tenure decisions--and the increasingly tight budgets--I expect law schools and central administrations to focus even more on those two factors in the future.

My sense is that law faculties are quite interested lateral candidates who have published with major university presses, as well as with elite law journals (both mainstream and peer reviewed). I think students get substantially more advice from faculty on articles than is typically acknowledged. So there may be an increasing element of peer review at many student-edited journals, as students seek out advice from their faculty; I would expect that trend to continue. But I'd be interested in hearing more about the practice at various law schools.

Moreover, at least in the hiring committee meetings that I've sat in on in recent years, there has been an intense focus on publication records--looking at typical law journals, peer reviewed journals, casebooks (I found that moderately surprising) and especially university press books. The hierarchy of presses is important.

Then there's the question: what are the implications for us as scholars in decisions about where to publish? That's hard to know. Law faculties have the easiest time evaluating the value of placements in mainstream law journals, I think, because they have the most experience with that. But they are increasingly familiar with the difficulties of writing an article that will pass several levels of peer review at a leading journal (like the Journal of Law and Economics, Journal of Legal Studies, Legal Theory, and Law and History Review) or of writing a sustained monograph and placing it with a major university press. As standards for entry level and lateral hiring continue to rise, I would expect that any credential that is known to be valuable and rare (like a book from a major press) will become increasingly important.

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